cloning and imaging

  tonyq 11:53 30 Jan 2010

please could someone explain in layman terms the difference between cloning and imaging (I think those are the terms)in reference to copying a hard drive.

  mooly 12:03 30 Jan 2010

Cloning is making a "copy" of the HDD onto another disk, such that that disk is and behaves just like the original.
You could "clone" your HDD C drive for example and put it onto a new or larger HDD and refit that it your PC. It would behave and boot etc just like the original.

Imaging is making a copy of the same HDD but the image file is of no use on it's own. It needs the software that made the image, to use to recreate the original image back on a HDD.
Imaging usually means "making a backup" which is a copy of thee HDD that you can restore from, and usually restoring that image back to where it came form if needs be.

The distinction isn't very obvious... imaging is kind of "the first step" in cloning a disk.
If you restore that image back... to do a system recovery you haven't "made a new disk", you have just put an "image" back on the same.

Cloning would give you as many disks as you wanted... all able to be swapped into your PC and used as if nothing had happened.

  Pine Man 12:04 30 Jan 2010

In basic terms you can access an image and recover individual files. A clone is a complete entity for installation on a different drive.

  Peter 13:51 30 Jan 2010


Not wishing to upset anyone, but I think Pine Man's explanation is a bit misleading.

As mooly explained Cloning is mostly used when a hard drive is running low on space and the solution is to replace it with a (significantly) larger hard drive. Instead of reinstalling Windows and all the software that is loaded on the smaller hard drive onto the new drive (a rather tedious and long process and there may be some legal issues here as well) the old hard drive can be cloned to the new hard drive. During the setup of the cloning process you will be given the opportunity of how the space on the new drive is allocated. As mooly indicated the newly cloned drive will appear and act just like the old drive, but with more space available.

An image is usually taken as a backup security measure. Individual files or folders can be retrieved from the image when required or the whole image can be restored over a problem or corrupt installation to put things back exactly as they were when the image was taken. An image can also be restored to a replacement drive in the case of drive failure. An image can be "Mounted" so that it acts like, and can be explored like, an installed extra hard drive.


  Pine Man 14:24 30 Jan 2010


  Peter 14:45 30 Jan 2010


"In basic terms you can access an image and recover individual files."

An image can indeed be used to access individual files, but can also be Mounted to act like an extra installed hard drive, or the image can be restored to a replacement hard drive or over a corrupt hard drive.

"A clone is a complete entity for installation on a different drive."

True, but the clone can also be restored to the same drive in the case of corruption of the drive and/or Windows setup, by installation of software that has upset things. The clone can be used as an insurance policy against things going wrong in a test situation. Instead of trying to sort out a problem when some new software upsets you computer you just restore you clone drive (or image). If you have a spare hard drive you can clone to it, use it for test purposes and software assessment/evaluation and then go back to the original drive with impunity.

I feel that your answers were too brief to the extent of not telling the full story. Sorry if I have upset you; that was not my intention. I just wanted to answer tonyq's question in a fuller manner.


  john bunyan 15:07 30 Jan 2010

I find it easier and quicker with a Primary disk partitioned into two - one for system, programme files, and the other for all of what, on XP was called "My Documents" to do an Image on an extenal HD of the system partition weekly, and, as I have a second internal HD, a clone. More frequently , using FreefileSync I make a mirror image of "My Documents" on the external HD. I also ocallionally do the wole lot on a second external HD. I find the mirror copy far quicker than ATI image with verification. I am now on W7.
I have only once had to use the back up in anger, and (i think because the image had not been verified) it totally corrupted the system. Luckily the clone worked.If you have enough space, why not do both?

  john bunyan 15:09 30 Jan 2010

PS I do also make an image of the "My Docs" partition sometimes for belt and braces- all after a scan for malware and a defrag.

  Pine Man 15:23 30 Jan 2010

Not upset in the slightest.

  tonyq 13:23 31 Jan 2010

Thank you for the reply's
I have a 5/6 year old Evesham PC Win XP, and a 3 year old Toshiba laptop Win Vista that I think I should back up ect.I have a couple of external hard drives, and Seagate DiscWizard (that I have never used). Would It be better to Clone or Image,or both?

  Pine Man 14:13 31 Jan 2010

If they are back ups - image.

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